Peruvian lightweight Claudio Puelles believes he may have found a new home training at Florida’s famed Sanford MMA, and he says he’s ready for a breakout performance at UFC Fight Night 189.
“This is actually my first camp in here, but I love it,” Puelles told MMA Junkie Radio. “I love the atmosphere. I love the training, so I might be doing all my camps here. So after this fight, I’m going to go home, relax a bit and be back training.
“I was actually getting so much better, and I’m a little sad that this camp is ending, but well, I had to fight sometime, so this may be the perfect time.”
Puelles (9-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) competes for the first time in 21 months when he faces Jordan Leavitt (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 189 event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The contest is currently scheduled to kick off the card, which streams in its entirety on ESPN+.
Seeking to better his preparation as he competes in the U.S. for the first time, Puelles sought out a new home for his training camps, and he said the system Henri Hooft has in place at Sanford MMA proved a welcoming environment.
“The first day I walked in, he was doing pads with someone in the octagon,” Puelles said. “I just, like, walked in and said hello to him, but he was working. But after that he came to me and we spoke a little bit, like two minutes, something short. But I felt that he was a really good guy, like he was treating me (well) from the beginning – like nobody knew me here in the States.
“I haven’t fought Stateside yet, so I’m not that well-known, but I will be. So I wasn’t like a big name, that’s what I mean, and he treated me like anybody else. … He treats everybody equal in the gym, and that’s something I respect a lot. I don’t like having like a crown at the gym, like the best guy out there. My old coach never treated us like that. He treated everybody equal, so I basically grew up in the gyms like that, and so I respect that a lot.”
While Puelles carries a two-fight winning streak into his matchup with Leavitt, he knows that his time away from the octagon has cost him a chance to truly prove his worth in the division. But after going through a lengthy camp with a room full of killers at Sanford MMA, he believes he’s ready to make an impression on a U.S. audience.
“I feel very good with myself right now,” Puelles said. “I know I’m on a very high level. I just haven’t showed it yet in the octagon because I haven’t had many fights, but I know the guys I train with. I know I’m at that level, so it’s just a matter of time.
“Like just (recently) I was working – we were in the octagon, a couple of guys that are going to fight soon, and I was surrounded by champions, and I’m like, ‘Who’s this next guy I’m fighting? I’m surrounded by champions.’ Training every day doesn’t get much better than this.”
Whether or not the investment pays off will be seen this Saturday. Puelles is confident in his decisions, and while he’s not much of a trashtalker, he also isn’t afraid to give an honest evaluation of his upcoming opponent.
“He’s a good guy,” Puelles said. “He’s undefeated, but he’s not the best guy I’ve fought.”
To hear the full interview with Puelles, check out the video below.